Stress reactions in mice tied to certain brain cells
New research published in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that there may be certain brain cells responsible for our different reactions to stress.
Researchers examined a group of neurons in the brains of mice as the animals faced highly stressful situations, such as electric shocks to the feet. They then let the mice escape the shocks and examined whether or not the mice remained resilient or became depressed.
The results showed that about 22 percent of the mice acted helpless or depressed, and often didn’t try to escape the shocks even though they could. The researchers found that in these depressed mice, neurons in a brain region called the medial prefrontal cortex had become highly excited and active. In the resilient mice, however, the researchers found that those same neurons were weakened.
Then, to find out whether depression was the cause of increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex or if that activity led to depression, the researchers engineered mice to mimic the neuronal conditions they found in depressed mice. These results showed that the once-strong and resilient mice became helpless, reflecting the classic signs of depression
The researchers hope these findings will help in finding a more targeted treatment for people who suffer from depression.